Northern Macedonia (until 2019 Macedonia). According to countryaah, Skopje is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of North Macedonia. Former Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski was prosecuted in March by the UN Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The charge against Boskovski as well as a former police officer was the first one brought before the tribunal for war crimes in Macedonia It involved the murder of ten ethnic Albanians during a clash between military and Albanian guerrillas during the country’s unrest in 2001. Boskovski was transferred to the Hague tribunal from Croatia, where he was already He was remanded in custody pending trial for the murder of seven Asians in 2002. He had been charged with that crime in his home country in May 2004, managed to escape but later arrested in Croatia, where he is also a citizen. When the Asians were murdered, the police allegedly belonged to an al-Qaeda group, but according to the prosecutor, it was Boskovski who staged the murders. He is considered a hard nationalist.
When local elections were held in March and April, it was seen as an important test of political stability in the country as it was the first choice after a disputed municipal merger.
There were reports of, among other things, threats, cheating and theft of ballots, but no violence. Government Coalition Together for Macedonia took home 36 out of a total of 85 districts while the largest opposition party Macedonian nationalist VMRO-DPMNE won in 21.
In December, the EU approved Macedonia as a candidate country with the promise of eventually opening membership negotiations. The EU noted that Macedonia has made great progress politically since it was on the brink of civil war in 2001.
In 2015, Macedonia became the transit country for the large Asian refugee stream. About 600,000 refugees traveled throughout the country during the year. Until June, it was common practice for the refugees to be rejected at the border, but from June the pressure was so great that they were allowed to pass. However, there were regular reports of mistreatment of refugees by Macedonian border guards or troops from the Interior Ministry. In August, the rules were changed again and Macedonia would now only accept entry of refugees from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. Everyone else was rejected. Following pressure from the EU, the country closed the border again completely in November – contrary to the UN Refugee Convention. Macedonia itself also contributed to the refugee flow. 10,210 Macedonians – predominantly Roma – fled to the EU to escape discrimination, persecution and poverty.
In May 2015, riots erupted in the capital Skopje. The background was charges against opposition leader Zoran Zaev, who replied again by stating that Prime Minister Gruevski had intercepted 20,000 people, was involved in corruption and was involved in a police murder in 2011. It came several times during the month to clash between police and protesters with wounded on both sides. The interior minister and several other ministers resigned, but the prime minister refused to let himself go. Over the summer, negotiations were held between the government and the opposition with the EU as a mediator. They resulted in the Pržino agreement, whose main content was for Gruevski to resign as prime minister in January 2016 and a new parliamentary election to be held in June 2016. In January, Emil Dimitriev was inaugurated as new prime minister. In April 2016, however, the president halted the investigation into Gruevski’s eavesdropping program, the former prime minister’s participation in corruption and abuse of power, as well as 56 other politicians’ participation in the criminal activities. This triggered extensive demonstrations, which from Skopje spread throughout the country and stretched until July. The protesters demanded President Ivanov stand before a state court and the investigation resumed. In July, protesters partially prevailed. In Parliament, a commission was set up to investigate the president for a court of justice; the investigation was resumed; and a technocrat government was set up to lead the country to parliamentary elections in December (postponed from April and June).
In March 2016, Macedonia closed the border with Greece, after the countries further north in the Balkans closed their borders, thus putting a plug in the Balkan route for refugees. The closure meant that thousands of refugees were stranded on the Greek side of Idomeni until they were removed in May. Throughout 2016, the European Commission on Human Rights criticized Macedonia’s treatment of refugees and the handling of the refugee situation overall.
In the December 2016 parliamentary elections, the reigning conservative VMRO-DPMNE went back 10 seats to 51. The Social Democrats went down 15 seats to 49. The Conservative Albanian BDI went back 9 seats to 10. In contrast, the Social Conservative Besa Movement came in with 5 seats. Despite the decline, VMRO-DPMNE sought to form a new government in coalition with BDI. However, negotiations broke down in January 2017, when the Social Democrats took over the negotiation process. In April, the Social Democrats formed a coalition government with the Albanian minority parties. As part of the agreement, the ethnic Albanese Talat Xhaferi was elected President of Parliament. It sparked national conservative Macedonian protests led by VMRO-DPMNE. 200 thugs stormed the parliament, fighting with journalists and politicians. Among other things. the new Social Democratic Prime Minister Zoran Zaev was injured. Social Democrat deputy Radmila Sekerinska had to be sewn after thugs had dragged her through parliament in her hair. Upon his accession, Prime Minister Zaev declared that joining NATO and the EU, as well as economic growth and the fight against corruption, would be the new government’s top priority.